Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I Am Ready

I still have about two weeks left before my trip, yet for various reasons, I'm already doing things for the last time. Friends I would, if possible, spend every moment with (though I typically must settle for only once a week), I am saying goodbye to.. I have two more paychecks, then I will be unemployed across the summer for the first time in probably 6 years.

This last weekend has been significant. I've been moping around for the last few months about having to go away and leave friends who, while I've known them for years, only relatively recently have I really began to feel a part of. It's been great becoming more familiar. And to terminate that contact now? However, after spending the last three days saying goodbye to basically everyone who could possibly be significant to me, I am ready.

They say the vast majority of preparing for such adventures as I am about to undertake is mental. Yes, I'll be pushing my body to the limit physically, but to quote Rodger Bannister's trainer in the movie, "The Four Minute Mile", "It is only pain, and pain is in the head." As long as I don't physically injure myself, and as long as my mind stays solid, I'm good to go.

Because of this knowledge I've been preparing myself mentally for this trip for well over a year - essentially thinking through various scenarios, anticipating the most difficult mental situations, and pre-programming an automatic response for such situations. Long hill climbs, waking up exhausted in the morning, feeling completely alone, being away from everything I know, feeling drained by the same thing over and over again.. The key is to remind myself what I am doing, why I'm doing it, why I'm not doing anything else.. to remember what I have learned already, how it has benefitted me already.. That others would love to do something similar to what I am doing. And, the fact that half of the rest of the youth group is also away for the summer, so if I were to jump ship and go home early, it would feel empty just the same, but without any significant learning experiences.

But still, while I've gotten myself as mentally prepared for the physical difficulty as possible, I wasn't quite emotionally ready. Which is where this weekend comes in. 
First there was a long Sabbath - a last choir practice and performance, the last Bible memory group meeting, attending a baptism for the last time before leaving, going on a last walk with friends, going to an all guys end-of-school-year, etc. farewell and congratulations party.. 
The next day (Sunday) was a big graduation, as 5 homeschooled young ladies were graduating from high school together. Friends and relatives I had not seen for some time were there, so I was able to bid them farewell, for the last time before my trip. I completed a task I'd been working on for 8 months, being an expression of appreciation to someone important to me. Had a great game of cones.. a late night..
Monday started with sending my sister off again - I'll see her before the end of the month, but it was my last opportunity before my trip to see other family members. I then spent most of the middle of the day working on making everything run smoothly on my bike, before going to my last social gathering before the trip - a backyard college graduation for a friend unable to attend with his class. I brought my bike, showed it to everyone, got some advice on repairs, on dealing with dogs.. heard some stories from another person's trip a couple decades ago.. played a last game of cones, and spent the next 3 hours saying goodbye to the couple dozen people who were there.

Shaking their hand, looking them in the eye, and saying, "I'll see you again.. when I do. It might be a while.."

It's possible I'll see a few of them once more before my trip, but for the most part I have given my last goodbyes before leaving..

Well, now I'm ready.
I'm ready to leave everyone and take off. Man, all this drama, you'd think I was leaving for good. One year is only 5% of my life so far, or 1.2% of my life expectancy as an American male. And yet, this will perhaps be the most significant year of my life.

I've got too much stored up determination, too much invested, too much built up momentum.. There's no way I'll back out now, and virtually no chance of an early termination. 

I am ready.